January 20th, 2014 by Sarah Sluis

Last night, the Seattle Seahawks advanced to the Super Bowl. As a proud Seattleite, I was happy to see the team win, but I’m not even enough of a fair-weather sports fan to watch them at the playoffs. What I did do, however, was ask Siri for the score a couple of times, and check Facebook. Scrolling through my News Feed, I saw dozens of posts about the Seahawks. Someone posted pictures of their game-day snacks. Another mentioned they were able to pre-board their flight for wearing a Seahawks jersey. There were pictures of babies in Seahawks gear—perhaps the ultimate in Facebook stereotypes.

The activity around the event was more interesting and useful for me than the event itself. That fact has been an organizing force around product development, both for consumers and enterprises. Facebook has the News Feed. Salesforce.com has Chatter. Microsoft has Yammer. All of these are established, widely used tools. It’s a popular opinion to call social media sites like Facebook useless time black holes, clogging up your feed with information about fringe friendships and much-liked articles. But that same behavior that makes Facebook feel unfulfilling provides unique advantages when it comes to collaboration. Is it worth it to send everyone an email about that presentation you sent out? No. But those tiny details help keep co-workers (and bosses) in the loop.

While doing research for a feature on Sales Management tools (which will be published to the website shortly), analysts and insiders told me that the workplace is changing. Instead of protectively guarding information to get an edge on a competitor, millennial salespeople want to share information and collaborate. Guarding contacts or sales practices closely isn’t the way to get ahead in a digitally connected world. Collaborating with co-workers so everyone gets better is.

Facebook first launched is News Feed in 2006, and consumers were extremely upset at seeing all their information broadcast in a public feed (my, how times have changed). GroupSwim adopted the format a couple of years later, and in 2009 Salesforce.com acquired the social collaboration tool. Now most other CRM systems are following, as well as many products that plug into CRM systems, like Friday’s social CRM announcement regarding Saleslogix Social Timeline. Where to next?

Recently, Facebook announced it will have “trending topics,” copying Twitter, but with the promise of secret sauce that will make the trending topics more relevant to the individual user. Improvements like that will likely make their way to the enterprise space as well. Wouldn’t it be useful for a sales manager to see what companies were receiving most of their staff’s attention—and why? Consumer companies are likely to continue to lead the innovation in social CRM on the enterprise side. The answers to next-generation products may be staring right in front of you, as corporations like Google refine their products. As Forbes contributor Gene Marks notes in a recent piece about Google’s social CRM-like capabilities, “It amazes me how much a non-CRM company can teach the CRM industry about what’s really needed.”

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